Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has lashed out at the PSNI police after another brutal murder in west Belfast highlighted the massive increase in crime in the area in recent years.
A 51-year-old former republican prisoner Frank `Bap` McGreevy died on Tuesday in hospital from head injuries after being savagely beaten at his home with a pickaxe and other weapons. The father of two had been on a life-support machine since he was found lying in a pool of blood by his fifteen-year-old son at the weekend.
A family member said ‘Bap’, who had served 17 years in Long Kesh, had more than 100 wounds to his head and his home had been ransacked.
After attacking Mr McGreevy, his two attackers went on a violent rampage in the Clonard area, smashing the windows of houses and assaulting two local men and damaging cars.
Witnesses criticised PSNI members who arrived on the scene, accusing them of looking on and allowing the men to escape.
The crime was identified as “anti-social behaviour” -- a local term for random violence and criminality, typically perpetrated by disaffected youths.
Twenty-year-old Thomas Valliday -- who is understood to have been “on the run” from prison for the past 15 days -- presented himself for questioning to the PSNI. He later appeared in Court charged with the killing and six other offences this week.
The vacuum of authority which has developed in republican areas following the disbandment of the Provisional IRA is said to be feeding the mounting crime problem. Despite Sinn Féin’s involvement in policing boards and government structures, there is still little affinity among locals for the PSNI or the North’s new power-sharing administration.
Mr Adams extended his condolences today to Mr McGreevy’s family, saying he knew him well. He blamed the PSNI for having failed the meet the requirements of the peace process.
“The fact is that the PSNI is not up to the job at this time of providing the civic policing service that the public demands and needs.”
“While I accept that there are many within the PSNI who want to provide a proper civic policing service, the reality at this time is that the PSNI is failing to deliver; it is failing to deliver on call out times, on responding to information from the public, in its investigations of anti-social and organised crime. So, a lot of work has to be done to make it a fit for purpose policing service.”
The victim’s brother, Martin, revealed ‘Bap’ had been severely assaulted outside his home last year.
“The fellas who attacked Frank assaulted two other people in Clonard Street just after. The cops were called but they did nothing even though the fellas were pointed out to them,” said Martin.
“They could have arrested them there and then, but they didn’t. It’s an absolute joke.
“Frank was beaten by the same gang last year,” added his brother.
“They broke his nose and left him with bruises all over his body.
“This was waiting to happen, it’s like Harry Holland all over again.”
The callous murder of 65-year-old grocer Harry Holland outside his home last September and the gruesome slaughter of John Mongan -- hacked to death with hatchets in front of his pregnant wife and two children last month -- had greatly heightened fears in west Belfast. Despite the growing problem, the PSNI has been accused of using its resources to harass, intimidate and spy upon republican political activists across the North.
Local Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Hartley questioned why the PSNI failed to arrest the murder suspects during the Clonard rampage in the wake of the assault.
He said: “My information is that they were given details of the killers’ whereabouts but did not act,” said Councillor Hartley.
Divis Residents’ Association Chairman Robert McCleneghan said the sickening attack had stunned the community.
“Bap was loved and respected. He comes from a big family who are well-respected and who everyone gets on with,” said Robert. “People can’t believe he has been assaulted. The people who did this are monsters. They have been terrorising this community for years.
“Bap was attacked because he was brave and stood up to them. It’s devastating that this could happen to such a good man.”